“We are our own nation. We are the lawmakers. We make all the rules based on what’s best for our own people.”
FORT McDERMITT — Across a rugged swath of mountainous terrain just south of the Oregon border, government land managers and an Indian tribe are poised to round up to 2,000 horses, many of them roaming federal land illegally.
A plan by the U.S. Forest Service and the Fort McDermitt Paiute–Shoshone Tribe to conduct a horse gather on federal and tribal land this summer is already drawing fire from wild horse advocates, with the issue likely to generate as much controversy as it did the last time horses were removed from the same area two years ago.
Forest Service and tribal officials as well as local ranchers insist the proposed gather is the best way to address a long-simmering problem posing an economic hardship to some and causing serious damage to a sensitive landscape, particularly during a time of drought.
Horse advocates counter the planned helicopter roundup of tribal-owned horses is a crisis solution to long-standing mismanagement of federal land and that the tribe will profit at taxpayer expense. They say federally protected wild horses will inevitably get caught up in the operation and that many horses – wild or domestic – “ultimately face a fate of slaughter.”
Both sides appear steered toward a collision course, much as occurred in 2013.
The joint operation by the tribe and Forest Service seeks to remove scores of horses grazing on Forest Service and BLM land adjoining the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Reservation in the Santa Rosa Mountains, located about 75 miles north of Winnemucca near the Oregon line…(CONTINUED)